Ron Capps prepared to ride Countdown consistency all the way to the championship

Photos courtesy NHRA
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With three races remaining in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, veteran racer Ron Capps is halfway to his first Funny Car title.

Capps, who has been racing Funny Cars for nearly 20 years, heads into Sunday’s final eliminations of the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals as the most consistent driver in Funny Car during this season’s playoffs.

Capps has continued to hold the points lead based on uncanny consistency and outstanding performance. In the first three races, he’s reached the semifinals or finals each time.

Even better, Capps and his Dodge Charger R/T have reached the semi’s or better in 12 of the last 13 races overall.

2016_Ron_Capps head shot
Ron Capps hopes to carry his consistency all the way to his first career NHRA Funny Car championship.

If he can continue that level of success in Sunday’s finals, as well as in the last two races of the season coming up at Las Vegas and Pomona (California), Capps’ task will be complete and he’ll finally reach the goal that has evaded him up until now.

Capps, who has five wins and four runner-ups heading into Sunday, leads Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. by 24 points.

“Of course it’s better to be chased than be the chaser at this point,” Capps said in a media release. “But we’ve still got a long way to go.

“It’s nice we’ve kept up the consistency and I said to win a you’ve got to average a semifinal finish or better.

“We’ve had such a great season and we want to keep it going. We’re clicking really well as a team and it’s time to take advantage of it.”

Capps and Johnson had a classic battle in the final round of the last race, two weeks ago at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania. Johnson won the race, cutting deep into what had been a 70-plus points lead, and leaving it at just 24 points.

Still, Capps has held on to that coveted No. 1 spot in the standings for the last 12 races – and you can bet he’s not going to give it up without a fight, particularly since he’s finished runner-up four different times in his career (1998, 2000, 2005 and 2012).

“Being close to winning so many times has proven beneficial to me, being in these type of positions,” Capps said. “You have to look forward to that pressure and there’s not a minute that goes by without thinking about the race and how to be better.

“There’s a lot of things that can go through your head this time of year, and you’re so embroiled in this points race and the pressure of it, but you get to do something pretty cool for a living and that needs to be enjoyed.”

In addition to Johnson being 24 points in arrears, Jack Beckman is 93 points behind Capps – with former champ Matt Hagan and reigning Funny Car champ Del Worsham.

Winning a would also bring plenty of enjoyment for Capps, who also must hold off the likes of Jack Beckman, who sits 93 points back, Matt Hagan (-110), reigning world champion Del Worsham (-122) and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force (-138).

“I’ve always looked forward to this race, especially during the Countdown,” said Capps, who won at Texas back in 1998 and typically fares well there. “Maple Grove can end a lot of title hopes, so we’re excited that we did well there and we’re going to a track I love.

“We’ve had a few issues, but with the week off we were able to find them and rectify them. The last three races, we’ve done well at over the years. I always look forward to Dallas (and) we’ve done well in Las Vegas and Pomona.

“We started off the season with a win and we would love to end it the same way.”

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Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.